Link for Traffic or Rankings?
this amusing article asking you whether you should link for traffic
or rankings (swapping links or reciprocal
building verdict: links for the sake of links (i.e. rankings) are
pointless and of little value to your site visitors
Should You Be Linking for Traffic or Rankings?
Just for a
change, rather than a technical article, I would like to tell you
a story. To begin, imagine your website is a little country bar,
now let's go back to when the internet began, and reciprocal linking
was being done properly. Now just sit back and picture the following.....
There you are
running your bar, it's a fairly busy little bar with plenty of regular
customers. You also get other customers who come from all directions.
Some make their way to your bar using all the little country back
roads (from links on other websites), others come on the big highway
(the Internet) from the big bars in the city (The Search Engines).
usually stay and have a beer or two (read a few pages of your site),
then decide they'd like to try somewhere different. Because you
realize your customers are bound to leave at some point anyway,
you recommend the bar down the road, telling them it is a great
bar too. You even show them a little leaflet you made (your link
section), which gives them directions on how to find it.
The bar down
the road also has his regulars, plus a few visitors from you, and
a few from the bars in the city. He knows you send him customers,
so when his customers have had a drink or two, and fancy going somewhere
different, he returns the favour, recommends your bar and gives
them directions how to get there.
In fact, there
are 10 little bars in your area that are all doing this and the
local back roads are alive with customers going from bar to bar
(The World Wide Web). Occasionally, when someone comes from the
big bars in the city (the Search Engines), you recommend the other
local bars and all your friends benefit from that visitor too.
Then one day
the big bar in the city sent all the local bars a letter saying:
"We are a much bigger bar than you, we have thousands of customers,
and they are all looking for nice little country bars like yours.
We would be glad to recommend your bar, however, we need to know
that your bar is popular before we tell our customers. The busier
your bar is, the more customers we will send you. We will of course
be sending one of our employees to see just how busy your bar is
(Search Engine link spiders).
Great you think,
more new customers, more business, more profits. Oh no! Wait a minute!
If you send your customers to the bar down the road, he would be
busier than you, and get all the new customers from the city. Better
stop sending them there. So you stop recommending his bar, and hide
the little leaflets that gave directions. (You feature your link
section only with a tiny little text link right at the bottom of
You can't get
rid of your leaflets, or the other bar may take you off his leaflet,
then when the employee from the city visits the other bar he will
think you are not popular, because you are not listed. Maybe you
could change the title of your leaflet, so it doesn't look like
directions to other bars, that way your customers won't pick it
up. (Call your links page "resources" or "partners").
Now, when your
customer has had their first beer or two, you don't recommend your
friend, and they don't find the leaflets, so they don't know there
is a back road that leads to other bars. The result? They take the
highway (the Internet) and go back to the big bar in the city where
they came from (The Search Engine).
When they get
to the big bar in the city, they don't stay there long, because
they know the barman can recommend some other great country bars.
Why does the barman do that? Because they are his busy friends,
but he also recommends a few bars who pay him to give them a plug
(Pay Per Click or advertising).
the bar down the road has been thinking the same thing as you, he
wants to be the busiest bar and get the extra customers from the
city. He has hidden or renamed his leaflets, and stopped recommending
you, like you stopped recommending him.
That road that
used to carry customers between your two bars is now very quiet
and no longer buzzing with customers driving up and down to the
different bars. Eventually, it becomes unused, because the customers
don't know it exists. (Hidden link sections). You never get customers
from your friend, because they too go back to the city to ask the
barman's advice. Your bar is much quieter without his referred customers,
and his bar is much quieter without yours.
What can you
do? Your bar is not as busy as it used to be, and you still want
the customers from the city. Hey, that's it! Pay the barman to promote
your bar (Pay-Per-Click or Advertising). Now what happens? The barman
sends you a visitor and makes himself some money. When the visitor
has had a few drinks at your bar, he goes back to the barman in
the city who recommends your friends bar down the road. Why? Because
your friends bar was empty, so he too paid the barman to send customers.
The WEB of
back roads is closing down, and being replaced by a network of highways,
all leading back to the barman who is making lots of money. Who
is paying him that money? You, and your friend, who used to share
those same customers for free. Meanwhile, the customers think the
only way to find a good bar is to see the barman in the city. NOT
TRUE IS IT? Both your bars are good, and before you had lots of
people recommending you, not just the barman.
If a child
read that story they would probably say how silly it is. This is
what linking JUST for rankings produces. The alternative?? Link
for traffic first, link only with sites who understand their visitors
are leaving at some point anyway, sites who are willing to send
their leaving visitors to other sites not straight back to search
engines all the time.
I am not search
engine bashing here, they are excellent and useful resources. However
if webmasters are not careful and continue to hide link sections
they will give the big search engines a monopoly on traffic. Try
turning things around. Exchange only quality visible links, that
will bring you visitors. If the current method of "Guru"
thinking is correct, this will automatically increase your popularity
and search engine rankings at the same time, the difference being,
you get visitors while your rankings improve not WHEN they have
Google or any other search engine does not consider a site important,
it does not mean that site does not have great content, it does
not mean that site is not busy, and it does not mean the site will
not send you visitors.
There are millions
of great sites with no PR and millions of great sites who are not
on the first page of search engine results. The only people who
have the right to judge a sites importance, and indeed the only
people who's opinion REALLY matters, are the users of your site.
About the Author:
Gary McHugh is co-owner of Honest Links. Honest Links is an excellent
community for webmasters who are looking to exchange quality links
If, after reading this article, you think you'd like to swap links
(or offer a one-way link to my site or vice versa) then please get
page is about linking for traffic or rankings to promote your website -- please share this page